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Pulaski County man facing federal drug-trafficking charges to remain locked up pending trial

by Dale Ellis | January 7, 2022 at 3:30 a.m.

A Pulaski County man jailed as the reputed leader of a large scale drug-trafficking operation in Central Arkansas will have to remain in jail after a motion hearing Thursday to review an October detention order.

Britney Decore Allen, 34, of Jacksonville, was arrested by federal authorities in September 2020 after a sweeping investigation led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and charged with heading up an organization believed to be responsible for the distribution of multiple kilograms of methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine in central Arkansas.

Last October he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tricia Harris, who ordered him to remain in jail pending trial after finding that no condition or combination of conditions could reasonably ensure that he would not be danger to the public or constitute a risk of flight.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky -- following an almost 90-minute motion hearing to review Harris' detention order -- came to the same conclusion after hearing arguments from Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Givens and Allen's attorney, Arkie Byrd.

At the outset of the hearing it appeared that Allen, appearing via videoconference link from pre-trial detention, intended to testify in his own behalf but following warnings from Rudofsky and a 10-minute conference with Byrd during which Rudofsky cleared the courtroom, he decided to allow Byrd to proffer his testimony rather than subject himself to cross-examination and potential self-incrimination.

Prior to that, Givens had told Rudofsky that he did not object to allowing Byrd to proffer in place of Allen, due to the nature of the hearing.

"I think I know some of what Mr. Allen testified about and it's not related to the case," Givens said. "I don't want to go outside of his testimony and get into all of that because we're just at a bond hearing right now and the issue is about his detention and not about his guilt ... if he testifies and I don't agree with what he says I'm going to have to ask him questions and I don't think this is the venue for that."

Allen was named as the lead defendant of 21 defendants named in a 48-count indictment handed up by a federal grand jury on Sept. 11, 2020. He is charged with 15 criminal counts of drug possession and distribution, conspiracy and firearms violations.

Byrd told Rudofsky that at Allen's previous detention hearing, Harris had relied primarily on information in a pre-trial services report that detailed his lengthy criminal history and testimony from a federal investigator regarding the scope and complexity of Allen's drug trafficking organization. But, she said, an issue of lifelong drug dependency was not addressed.

"His parole record from ADC, he indicated he has a history of drug abuse," Byrd said. "He didn't think that was given consideration in testimony at the first hearing."

"I don't know that his history of drug dependence, of drug abuse was brought up," Rudofsky responded. "To the extent you want to make a proffer on what that history was, I'm happy to listen to it but I think generally, Mr. Allen has a history of drug dependence, is that essentially the factual part of your proffer?"

Byrd acknowledged that to be the case and said she believed that rather than continued detention, Allen would benefit more from residential drug treatment.

"If that history had been presented, the court could have considered possible inpatient drug rehabilitation adoption," she said.

Givens disagreed and said a great deal of evidence exists to support Allen's continued incarceration.

"He has 14 pending felony counts," Givens said. "He's accused of very, very serious crimes. ... I know that legally drug crimes are not considered crimes of violence but violence surrounds drugs and the types and quantities of drugs Mr. Allen has been dealing with and the guns, which I'll get into later ... violence surrounds drugs."

"Let me ask you this just so I'm thinking about it in the right way," Rudofsky said. "If the only danger is he will continue to sell drugs, does that count as a danger to the community."

"It absolutely does," Givens replied. "Simply selling poison to people who then die, that is a danger to the community."

Additionally, Givens said the depth and scope of the drug operation Allen oversaw and the fact that when he was arrested on the federal charges, he was free on bond from a previous state prosecution supported continued detention.

"It's clear that Mr. Allen has been a career drug dealer," Givens concluded. "I have zero confidence that he will stop selling drugs or that he will appear in court considering he is looking at potentially a minimum of 60 years in prison ... I do believe drug rehab is appropriate in some cases but this is not one of them."

In ruling on the matter, Rudofsky said he concurred with Harris' previous order.

"I believe Judge Harris did the exact correct thing here," he said. "I don't believe the new facts of drug abuse change the analysis, or if it does it's minimal and it maybe cuts the other way."

Print Headline: Drug-ring suspect will stay in jail until trial, judge rules


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